Mexico Sister Parish
Fr. Peter Daly
January 24, 2007
We are just
sent a little delegation of four people to visit our sister parishes high in
the mountains of the central Mexican state of
We have two sister parishes. One is Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart) in the “municipio” (county) of Pisaflores. The other is San Pedro in the “municipio” of Chapulhuacan.
places are not tourist
mountain people. Their local music, called Huaztecha,
sounds like our country music. If you want a mental picture
of the place, combine the music and the mountains, and think of
Not too many “gringos” visit there. In one little town, I mentioned that I am the only gringo ever to visit four times. They laughed in agreement.
They call me “Padre Gringo” or “Padre Pedro.” I answer to either.
By now I sometimes
get recognized on the street. One young woman stopped me in the town of
The local priests are incredibly overworked. There is no way they can even visit all the towns, let alone the individual homes. One of our sister parishes has 45 chapels and two priests. The other parish has 25 chapels and one priest.
When we go, we try to visit the places the local priests can’t get to. We also try to help financially to support the work of the lay catechists. We buy building supplies to rebuild chapels. We also have bought bells, crucifixes, statues and chairs for chapels. We bring supplies for the catechists, especially Bibles, catechisms, rosaries and prayer books.
Catholic Church is under siege in
Because the priests cannot be everywhere, the Catholic Church depends on lay catechists. These lay volunteers teach the faith, hold Sunday services in remote towns, reflect on the scriptures, and prepare people for sacraments. Without the catechists, the church would die.
Our visits are like getting caught up in a whirlwind. I usually celebrate mass three times a day, in three different little towns.
Getting to the towns involves hours bouncing along the dirt roads, in the back of pick-up truck. We sit on stools or boards laid across the truck side rails. .
When we get there to the town, the catechists jump off and call people to mass with loud speakers, bells, and fireworks. Nobody has a phone. People come down from the hills, in from the fields, and out from their houses.
Each mass is followed by a “convivio” (party). Women miraculously produce tables loaded with chicken and pork, tortillas and enchiladas, beans and rice. Sometimes, we also participate in weddings and baptisms.
These visits are not a restful, but they are rejuvenating.
I always come back exhausted but strangely energized.
Somehow, on the faces of all those wonderful people, we see in a new way what the faith means to people. How it unites us. How it sustains us. How it guides us.
Somehow, God has given this place to me and to my parish. It is a mystery how we have made this connection. Truly the plan of God.
It is the mystery of the Body of Christ.
What a gift it is.